C&O/GAP Tour

I’m planning a tour of the Great allegheny Passage and the surrounding area at some point in the future.  This page is a work in progress.  Right now it is a plan that will evolve over time and get more and more specific in some ways.  Then it will morph into a page that documents the journey and hopefully some things I enjoyed or learned along the way.

I travel on Amtrak to/from the start/end of the ride.   Leaving Atlanta on Amtrak, I arrive in DC the next morning around 10 a.m.  I’ll unpack my bicycle and head out, leaving Union Station in Washington.  I might hang out and tour Washington for a day or two.  Then I begin the journey on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath (C&O) trail, starting at Mile Zero, near
Georgetown Waterfront Park.

I’ve purchased the C&O Canal and Great Allegheny Passage Trail Book, which has tons of detail about the 335 mile ride on these two connected trails.  The book includes detail on numerous campsites along the way (page 84) including many free hiker-biker campgrounds.  the campgrounds are said to be first-come/first-served but I read that in practice they are simply shared, and you can’t expect to be unable to find a place to lay down for the night.

View C&O Towpath and Great Allegheny Passage in a larger map

The TrailBook is really fascinating reading. A nice dose of history, going back to the beginnings of the trail (canal) in 1825, the impact of railroad development, the threat of a scenic highway (glad that didn’t happen!), and the development of the bike path in modern times.

When I get up to Leesburg I’ll cross the Potomac at White’s Ferry and go visit my brother Robert and his wife Terri and Daughter Katie.  It’s been years since I made my way up there.

Once I arrive in Pittsburgh I’ll get on Amtrak again and start a return trip home.  That looks like a early morning departure around 5 a.m., arrive in DC around 1 p.m., leave DC around 6 p.m., and arrive in Atlanta around 8 a.m. the next morning.

Planning

  1. Tires.  What kind of tires do I want? 170 miles of the C&O are kind of rough I hear.  Ruts, roots, mud, etc.  I think I’ll risk leaving my fenders on during potential mud and hope for the best.  But I need to settle on some tires.  Credit goes to AusTexMurf  on BikeForums.net for this comment:  Continental Travel Contacts 700X37’s have performed flawlessly for me in the trail conditions encountered on the C&O, GAP, and nearly every other touring and commuting conditions in which I have ridden. Even decent in the frozen stuff compared to most non studded tires.
  2. Get some water purification tablets.  Many of the hiker-biker campgrounds don’t have potable water but have water nonetheless.

Camping and Lodging

Some resources along the way include…

TrailBook page 84 lists campgrounds on the C&O Towpath and then the GAP.

Links

Info on the C&O, Cool Looking C&O iPhone App, Lodging along the towpath, Camping along the towpath, Food along the towpathInfo on the GAPCamping on the GAP, Washington DC cycling.

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